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Brand funds internships for students interested in rural health policy

ISSUED: 12 April 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is pleased to offer internship opportunities in rural health policy for students pursuing studies in healthcare and healthcare management. Dr. Marcia K. Brand, who currently serves as chair of Shepherd’s Board of Governors, sponsors the internships.

“It’s different in rural communities, where you cannot achieve the economies of scale that you have in major urban areas,” Brand said. “Rural health policy is a set of principles and plans of action that governments and organizations use to address these and other rural health issues.”

Brand considers it her privilege to have held a number of leadership positions in the federal government throughout her career in rural health policy. For six years, she directed the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). When she left the government in 2015, she was serving as deputy administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this career civil servant role, she served as second in command of a 1,800-person agency with an $11 billion budget.

“Among those things that remain important to me is that there continues to be a cadre of individuals who understand rural health policy,” said Brand, a native of Martinsburg.

Brand has pledged a 10-year commitment to fund two merit-based internships per year for Shepherd students who are interested in rural health and health policy. The internships may take place at either of two organizations: FORHP, which allows students to learn about federal and state programs that exist to support rural communities, or the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), the principal membership organization in the nation for rural health policy. Both organizations regularly host interns and are excited about the opportunity to work with Shepherd.

“As the recipient of a rural health policy internship, I feel better educated and informed about the healthcare struggles and challenges that fellow West Virginians and Americans face,” said Bree Myers of Martinsburg, who interned at the NRHA in fall 2017. During that time, Myers had the opportunity to attend hearings on Capitol Hill, which focused on the debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act, allowing her to witness firsthand how policy is shaped.

“Having had this experience, I feel I am more strongly equipped with resources and tools to advocate for others in ensuring health care rights for all Americans, regardless of their zip code,” she said.

Myers, who will graduate from Shepherd’s Master of Business Administration degree program in May, was one of the first two students to benefit from the rural health policy internship opportunities created by Brand in 2017. Felix Gouanette of Douala, Cameroon, also performed his internship with the NRHA. Gouanette is enrolled in the university’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Students are recruited for rural health policy internships with the help of Shepherd faculty and are selected based on their résumés and relevant experience. Students may decide at which organization they would like to intern.

Brand hopes her gift will serve as a model for others who are engaged with the campus community, particularly those who are retired from the federal government and have a strong respect for the federal workforce. Likewise, she hopes these internship opportunities will inspire Shepherd students to pursue similar policy experience and consider careers at the federal level.

Students interested in a healthcare internship may contact Dr. Sharon Mailey, acting dean for and chair of the Department of Nursing Education, at Students interested in a healthcare administration internship can contact Dr. Ben Martz, dean of the College of Business, at

To learn more about making a gift of any size through the Shepherd University Foundation, contact Monica Lingenfelter, Shepherd University Foundation, P.O. Box 5000, Shepherdstown, WV, 25443-5000, 304-876-5397,, or visit the Foundation online at

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